The Red Sox’ wealth of pitching prospects is a positive for the team as a whole; however, that group of youngsters could be a frightening thought for some Red Sox pitchers yet to cement themselves in the majors, specifically Felix Doubront.
Now entering his third full season in the Red Sox rotation, Doubront is yet to really cash in on his potential and become a frontline or even mid-rotation starter. That’s not to say that the big lefty hasn’t shown flashes, however. Last season he had his greatest sustained run of success yet as he put together 16 consecutive outings in which he allowed no more than three earned runs. The season before, Doubront struck out 9.3 batters per nine innings in his first taste of being an MLB starting pitcher.
However, his career ERA still sits at just 4.67, though his 4.13 career FIP suggests that better things are to come. However, those “better things” are still only around that of a mid-to-back rotation starter in Fenway Park and Doubront is yet to show that he can even be that consistently. In both of the last two seasons, Doubront has had strong early season runs but has faltered down the stretch, which could be due to conditioning issues which he does seem to have alleviated this season.
With names such as Henry Owens, Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, and Brandon Workman breathing down his neck, Doubront will really need to put it all together in 2014. He did seem to take steps towards figuring himself out yesterday, as he allowed just 2 runs while striking out 7 batters in 6.2 innings against the Orioles as he looks to fix a slow start.
However, the final judgement of Doubront’s 2014 season will not come from the start; it will come from the finish. If Doubront’s better conditioning helps him to stay strong throughout the season and not falter down the stretch, then it’s safe to assume that he’ll be a key part of the Boston starting five for years to come. If he falters down the stretch again, however, he could be in the back of the rotation to stay and could even find himself as trade bait with so much depth in the Red Sox system. Let’s hope he figures it out, because his ceiling is just as high as most of the highly-touted youngsters in the farm system.